For my latest documentary I talked to three women; Elsie Nwaora, Nomaxabiso Maye and Florence Eriamantoe who lived for years in Direct Provision.
This was the system set up almost 20 years ago to provide accommodation and meals to asylum seekers while their claim is being processed. Intended to be a short-term solution, it seems to have created even more long-term problems.
The lack of access to cooking facilities, the overcrowding (Florence lived in one room with her family for more than six years), the lack of privacy and the strain this puts on family dynamics are all obvious: but perhaps what’s less tangible is the subtle loss of dignity and self-direction that Direct Provision incurs. ‘You have no autonomy’ as Nomaxabiso puts it….[more]
Elsie Nwaora, Nomaxabiso Maye and Florence Eriamantoe are three women who’ve survived Direct Provision; “a place of punishment,” as Elsie calls it.
“You can see it”, she says, “but you don’t know what to do.”
While a few years ago you might have been able to claim ignorance, surely there’s few people in Ireland who aren’t yet aware of this system of institutional living…[more]
The police have stopped volunteers bringing in building materials so with the influx of around 70 new people a day, many are living in cramped tents. One medic from Ireland, Elena Lydon, who regularly works in the camp,said that ‘for the first time people were coming up saying they were hungry to us in the First Aid caravans.’
Most of us know of all this, as Calais has been substantially reported on this last year, but what are people really like in the camp? Where have they come from – geographically, culturally, personally?
‘The Hungry Road’, a reference to the Irish famine, is an attempt to get behind the statistics and hear what some individuals have to say about living in what most described as ‘hell’. [more]
CALAIS, FRANCE – “It became just like a jail. Like a prison. Wherever you look you can find just defence, just police. Maybe they – the French people in Calais – have the right to hate refugees here. They made their town a prison,” said Khaled, speaking from the French port, home to the refugee camps that have existed at different population capacities since 1999.
More than 6,000 people seeking refuge in Europe are still living – barely existing – in the unofficial camps in Calais. As news that the French police may completely dismantle the premises by September circulated this week, the camp’s residents grew even more worried for their futures. They have lived in a constant state of anxiety about what will happen to them – suspended in perpetual limbo. [more]
Driving through Calais on the first night, groups of men walked through the shuttered town on their desperate mission to jump the train and find refuge in England. Ghost-like, from another world, their faces exhausted and determined. Many of these people will fall off the trains, sucked up into the tunnel and forgotten by all but their friends and family who see this happening and still have to go on. Why would someone risk life and limb to get to England?
A man from Afghanistan showed me a scar from his wrist to his elbow which he’d gotten trying to jump the train. ‘I’m not trying anymore. I will stay here for now. I’m here 6 months, but I can’t go home. The Taliban will kill me, it’s too dangerous to go home.’
He was clearing an area to set up a café on the camp. Whenever we passed that day he was clearing rubbish, filling in soil. He told us the Irish could eat there anytime, for helping him clean up the space. ‘I have to do something or I’ll go crazy.’ [more]